At the heart of the expat community in Paris, at the literal heart of Paris itself, sits an independent bookstore that has inspired generations of readers and writers: Shakespeare and Company. Opened in 1951 by American George Whitman, and later handed over to his daughter, Sylvia, the store has acted as a meeting place, hostel, and invaluable resource for Anglophone bibliophiles for almost seventy years.
Now, Shakespeare and Company is asking for all those it has helped over the years to give back. The shop recently released a statement encouraging patrons to order via their online store, as they have struggled over the past several months as a result of COVID-19, with sales down by 80% from last year. Places like Shakespeare and Company, which sits at Kilometer Zero, steps from the Notre Dame, have been hit particularly hard, as they rely on the influx of tourists, study abroad students, and other outsiders, most of whom have been kept from visiting Paris due to travel restrictions.
The good news is that they ship all over the world, and now is the perfect time to start ordering gifts for the holiday season. As 2020’s mantra goes, “Shop early. Shop local.” (Even if we might be stretching the definition of “local” here.) Their online store has a wide variety of books in all genres, as well as rare books, books from independent publishers, and other gifts, like their iconic tote bag. In particular, their collections of books by expat writers is comprehensive, as is their selection of Paris history books. May we suggest the store’s 400-page history, Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart?
They recommend ordering before December 11 in order to receive your gifts in time for the holidays, as estimated shipping to the U.S. may take up to 2 weeks. Express Shipping is also offered. But you don’t need to use the holidays as an excuse to show your support – gift yourself the present of a good book any time of the year. They also have beautiful gift wrapping and customization options, like slipping in a poem or adding a spritz of perfume. Be sure to get the trademark Shakespeare and Company stamp on your book! If you have any issues ordering (as their site has been known to crash), you can contact them at: [email protected].
The store also offers Click & Collect services for those currently in Paris, between the hours of 12-6pm every day, and their cafe is open and offering takeaway service from 3-5pm. Stop by for an activated charcoal latte and a pastry. Maybe even pick up one of their reusable travel coffee mugs.
Hopefully, Shakespeare and Company will soon be able to resume its normal schedule of workshops, readings, and other events. But until then, we can still read, write, and dream.
Featured Image: Stock Photos from Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock